Mark Dowling reaches top gear to clinch Tour of Ulster glory
The sun was shining in Cookstown yesterday as crowds gathered to watch 112 elite cyclists compete in the final stage for the coveted pink jersey in this year's AmberGreen Energy Tour of Ulster.
After a gruelling seven laps of a 10-mile circuit it was Mark Dowling of DID Dunboyne who clinched the Tour of Ulster trophy, in partnership with SDS Energy Group and Saltmarine.
Dowling raced from Belfast to Cookstown in 6 hours 17 minutes and 32 seconds (excluding Saturday's abandoned stage 2), with second-placed Eoin Morton three seconds behind. In third position was Edward Laverack from Cheshire JLT Condor, a further four seconds adrift.
Laverack, however, won the SDS Energy Points Competition, the Planet X Mountains Competition and the Campbell Cairns Young Riders' Competition.
The Ireland Development Team won the Team Prize.
Yesterday's stage winner was Banbridge cyclist Roger Aiken of Team Asea and in second place was 18-year-old Mark Downey from Banbridge.
Organiser Garry Nugent, of BGN Management, believes the race was particularly tough.
He said: "It was very close and the riders really battled it out. Weather conditions were good but everyone wanted that pink jersey and they fought hard.
"The 2015 AmberGreen Energy Tour of Ulster was fantastic and we couldn't have done it without the sponsors and the team of volunteers who gave up their time to work behind the scenes so thank you to everyone."
Neil O'Brien, chairman of AmberGreen Energy and event partner, said: "The last four days have been phenomenal. The Tour of Ulster is a race which captures the hearts and minds of cyclists from across the globe.
"We are already looking ahead to next year's Tour with great excitement and enthusiasm. This is the biggest race in the annual racing calendar and we are expecting it to continue growing year on year."